With publication of his new book, Pete Rose may be changing his story, admitting publicly for the first time what he's been denying for 14 years, that he bet on baseball.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing a "person privy to some of the contents" of "My Prison Without Bars," reports in its Saturday edition that Rose confesses in the book, which has been embargoed until its official publication date Thursday.
Citing a major league official, the New York Times reported Wednesday that Rose, in fact, told commissioner Bud Selig on Nov. 25, 2002, that he had bet on baseball.
On Friday, in an op-ed article in the Times, former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent, writing about the book, notes that "word is" Rose admits to betting on baseball, but that he "confronts his past with very little remorse."
It is believed that Rose will have to both admit to gambling on baseball and apologize for his actions for Selig to reinstate him into good standing, thus making him eligible for election to the Hall of Fame.
As ESPN.com columnist Rob Neyer speculated on Dec. 17, and as the Inquirer and Times have noted in their recent articles and columns, such a mea culpa by Rose in his book would come two days after the new Hall of Fame class is announced and could be the start of Rose's campaign for redemption and induction.
According to the Inquirer, Rodale Press, which is publishing the book, declined Friday to comment on the contents of the book.
Rose was banned from baseball for life in 1989 by commissioner Bart Giamatti after being investigated for gambling while managing the Cincinnati Reds. Rose was declared ineligible for the Hall of Fame in 1991.
In the agreement between Giamatti and Rose suspending Rose, baseball did not formally conclude that Rose was guilty of gambling on the sport but Giamatti stated that he personally believed that Rose had bet on baseball.
Giamatti had before him the findings of independent investigator John Dowd, who detailed 412 baseball wagers that he said Rose made between April 8 and July 5, 1987, while managing the Reds, including 52 bets on Cincinnati to win.
Rose applied to Selig for reinstatement in 1997 and Selig began reviewing the appeal in earnest after the November 2002 meeting during which Rose is said to have confessed.
Selig declined to comment to the Inquirer Friday on the latest developments, reiterating that Rose has the right to appeal his lifetime ban and that he, the commissioner, is reviewing the case. Such a review would undoubtedly include the contents of the new book -- whether there's a confession and, if a confession, whether there's an apology.
As for the Hall of Fame, a player has a 15-year period starting five years after his retirement during which he is eligible for election by the baseball writers. If Rose is reinstated, his final year of eligibility on the ballot would be in December 2005. After that, his possible selection would pass to the veterans committee, which includes all living Hall of Famers, some of whom are adamantly opposed to his induction.
The first printing of the book, priced at $24.95, is huge at 500,000 copies. With those numbers, Rodale Press obviously expects Rose's book to make a big splash, and, according to the Inquirer's source, baseball's all-time hit leader has delivered.